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English essay about Hard Times by Charles Dickens. How does Dickens allow his natural tendency towards sentimentality to encroach on his essentially realistic portrait of Cocketown and its inhabitants?


[...] Here is Dickens. His voice intervenes in the fiction. Dickens also plays with his characters, introducing his voice behind them. Instead of simply describing them, he caricaturises them. We could divide the characters into two categories: the “good and kind people” and the and nasty people”. “Good people” are the poor, like Blackpool, Rachael, and Sissy who benefit from values such as honesty, modesty, and sensibility. Whereas people” are the wealthiest, who are seen as materialist, manipulative, careless, and powerful. [...]

[...] That is why he connected his character with his sensibility. Dickens, as his feminine characters, is a sentimentalist. Therefore, what Dickens shows in this novel is that he wants to go beyond reality, to make us understand that imagination has nothing to do with facts but with everyone’s sensibility, everyone’s perception of life and aesthetics. He clearly opposes facts to fancy all along the novel. Facts are criticized first through the educational system. For Dickens, the school teaches nothing but facts. [...]

[...] Bounderby succeeded in becoming what he is thanks to his powerful imagination, not thanks to Facts. Paradoxically, as Samuel stated (1992, p.79), Bounderby suppressed facts of his life”. Worst he must be convinced by his own lies so much that he may believe that it is the truth, the reality. Another character that left her rational thought to one side is Mrs Sparsit. An entire chapter is dedicated to Mrs Sparsit’s imagination (p.195-199). She imagines that Louisa is on a staircase, at the bottom of which is shame, shame of having an affair with M. [...]

[...] Dickens illustrates this thought through Blackpool’s character who asks Bounderby if there is any law that could help him to divorce his wife. What the wealthy factory owner answers is “There is such a law ( ) but it’s not for you at all. It costs money. It costs a mint of money.” (p.76), meaning that rights are unequally distributed, and that justice is not free. Dickens did not invent anything as life was like that. The wealthiest people were, the more rights and protection they benefited from. [...]

[...] Blackpool is a martyr, who died for Tom’s crime. Just before his death, he finds comfort in a star: ha’shined upon me ( ) in my pain and trouble down below. It ha’ shined into my mind. I ha’ lookn at’t an thowt o’ thee, Rachael, till the muddle in my mind have cleared awa, above a bit, I hope” (p.264). Imagination enables him to escape the hard facts of his miserable existence, but also to face death that is coming. [...]

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